Elizabeth was an unsettled baby and needed to be held constantly to settle, including during sleep time. She was a late crawler and walker. An occupational therapist assessed her to be at the bottom 5% of her age group for physical and gross motor development.
During her first week of kindergarten at 4 years old, her teachers had concerns as she seemed to be in her own world, had poor fine and gross motor skills, and had problems following instructions. A speech assessment diagnosed her with a severe delay in expressive and receptive language ability (again at the bottom 5% of her age group). She was then diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at 4 ½ years old.
At 4½, we introduced Elizabeth to group music and keyboard classes. Our thinking was that this would introduce some fun activities to balance out her intensive therapy schedule which was, at that time, 4 sessions a week. As it was a group setting, it was very hard for Elizabeth to concentrate and follow instructions and she was always disrupting the class. However she did seem interested in certain aspects of the class. We asked our occupational therapist for some guidance and she recommended that we contact Ms Daphne after seeing her presentation on 60 minutes. We started lessons after a period of observation in July 2016.
Since then, Ms Daphne has been guiding us through every step of Elizabeth’s music journey, from patiently teaching her the skills, to intuitively knowing and picking the songs that Elizabeth would love to learn and to even suggesting a second instrument (cello) for Elizabeth which she has relished learning as much as piano, to our amazement!
Through Ms Daphne’s guidance, Elizabeth has developed a love for music and is confident enough to play in front of people she has never met before, something we would never have imagined happen for her!
Through Ms Daphne’s classes and concerts we have also had the opportunity to meet other wonderful families too and that has made us feel less alone in our journey.
NOW AND THE FUTURE
Elizabeth’s musical journey has been eye opening and a real silver lining, considering all the challenges she has faced. For a child who has consistently been assessed at the lowest 5% range in terms of developmental milestones, music is the one thing that appears to have been relatively easy for her to pick up.
Music has had a huge positive impact on Elizabeth’s development. It has given her confidence and belief in herself that she can overcome challenges as long as she keeps trying. As parents, this has been a real highlight for us.
This journey has given us a lot of hope about the future and we are thankful to have the opportunity to learn music with a teacher who understands Elizabeth.
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Professional Development Opportunities
Special needs training for music teachers by Daphne Proietto